Hannah Webster Foster (1759–1840). The Coquette, or The History of Eliza Wharton. 1855.

Letter XLIX


Your truly romantic letter came safe to hand. Indeed, my dear, it would make a very pretty figure in a novel. A bleeding heart, slighted love, and all the et ceteras of romance enter into the composition.

Excuse this raillery, and I will now write more seriously. You refer yourself to my friendship for consolation. It shall be exerted for the purpose. But I must act the part of a skilful surgeon, and probe the wound which I undertake to heal.

Where, O Eliza Wharton, where is that fund of sense and sentiment which once animated your engaging form? Where that strength of mind, that independence of soul, that alacrity and sprightliness of deportment, which formerly raised you superior to every adverse occurrence? Why have you resigned these valuable endowments, and suffered yourself to become the sport of contending passions?

You have now emerged from that mist of fanciful folly which in a measure obscured the brilliance of your youthful days.

True, you figured among the first-rate coquettes, while your friends, who knew your accomplishments, lamented the misapplication of them; but now they rejoice at the returning empire of reason.

True, you have erred; misled by the gayety of your disposition, and that volatility and inconsideration which were incident to your years; but you have seen and nobly confessed your errors. Why do you talk of slighted love? True, Mr. Boyer, supposing you disregarded him, transferred his affections to another object; but have you not your admirers still among men of real merit? Are you not esteemed and caressed by numbers who know you capable of shining in a distinguished sphere of life? Turn then, my friend, from the gloomy prospect which your disturbed imagination has brought into view. Let reason and religion erect their throne in your breast; obey their dictates, and be happy. Past experience will point out the quicksands which you are to avoid in your future course.

Date then, from this, a new era of life; and may every moment be attended with felicity. Follow Mr. Boyer’s advice and forget all former connections.

Julia accepts your invitation. Nothing short of your request could induce me to part with her. She is a good girl, and her society will amuse and instruct you. I am, &c.,